3 things we learned from Atlétic’s victory in the derby over Real Madrid

Atlético Madrid welcomed very different Real Madrid to the red-and-white part of town on Sunday night, though they did so without much talk of an “honor guard” for the recently crowned LaLiga champions.

Instead, the Athletes did their conversation on the field and secured a 1-0 victory, the first Derbi Madrileño to be hosted by five-year-old Wanda Metropolitano. It came thanks to a VAR awarded penalty, converted by Yannick Carrasco.

Here are three things we learned from the derby:

Real Madrid did not care for this match

Yes, Atlético won the first Madrileño Derby since 2016, but this was a Derby by name only. Andriy Lunin, Jesús Vallejo and Luka Jović are not players at the level needed for such an important match.

The media fully expected Carlo Ancelotti to make changes to his team after 120 minutes against Manchester City in the middle of the week, but those rotations exceeded what was expected.

Photo by Jose Breton / Pics Action / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Karim Benzema was expected to start in all of Madrid’s major sports news on Sunday morning, but he didn’t. In fact, only three of Real Madrid’s starting lineup would make up Ancelotti’s strongest XI: Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Éder Militão. None of them passed 90 minutes.

Real Madrid have already won the LaLiga in this match. Not just one eye, but both of their eyes are now on Paris. Derby or not. As Euan McTear wrote his column for Madrid Management, “No matter how pointless this competition was, it was still a derby, so (initial XI) it was a bit of a shock.”

With all that was in the game for the Athletes, knowing in what danger a place among the top four could come if three points were not secured, only a win would be an acceptable result for the Colchoneros.

The Derby Madrileña win is always sweet for Atlético fans, but this time it seemed like a derby against Castilla, more than one against Real Madrid.

The athlete was lucky that he did not pay for the missed opportunities

Sixteen shots, 2.45 xG, but only one goal from the penalty spot.

This is the same old story we hear over and over again from Atlético Madrid – don’t take any chances.

How often have we seen this scenario before? Atlético dominates but fails to seize their chances and end up with a disappointing result? Equally, for the other side, how many times have we seen Real Madrid play outside the park, only to turn their one or two chances and return home to the Bernabéu with all three points?

Had Benzema passed off the bench, this equalizer could have ended quite differently. With 1.14 xG forcing Jan Oblak to six saves, Sunday was one of those moments where the Slovenian had to be one of Atletico’s best players, despite his team playing on the front foot for most of the game.

Club Atletico de Madrid vs. Real Madrid CF - La Liga Santander

Photo by Rubéna de la Fuente Péreza / NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s been 308 minutes since Atlético last scored in an open game. In the last seven games of Atletico, only one goal was scored in the open game. It’s a combination like João Félix, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suárez, Ángel Corree, Matheus Cunha, Giuliano Simeone, Yannick Carrasco, Renano Lodi and Marcos Llorente, all in attacking positions at one time or another during that series.

The positive in this case, unlike some recent games, is that Atlético created opportunities. The athletes last recorded more than 16 shots in one game Champions League match against Milan at San Siro last September.

Reason for optimism gives us the opportunity to create opportunities from the middle of the field, where Geoffrey Kondogbia dominated, and Koke for a while looked much more influential and creative than he is. But the Athletes will always be limited and will continue to steal results with a bit of luck, until he adds another clinical killer to his attack.

We need to talk about Antoine

This point could be linked to the previous one, as the club’s big signing for a long-term solution for the striker position was a failure. Since joining the loan from football club BarcelonaAntoine Griezmann had more hairstyles than league goals.

Griezmann won his doubts in some respects. He works hard for the team. He will accept to play a deeper role because the coach is looking for him. He is not an ego-driven prima donna. He did everything necessary to re-fit into the club in terms of his image, attitude and reputation.

But what disappointed him was something he could hardly think of when he rejoined the club in August. Is he good enough? A goal every 580 minutes would suggest it isn’t.

Arriving at half-time for Ángelo Corre on Sunday, it made sense that Griezmann’s experience and cunning would lead him to revolve around Vallejo. Its finish needed to be a step up in quality in order for Lunin to really be tested. He failed on both fronts. Chances came to Griezmann, but in his two best chances he fired far from the goal.

There were eerie similarities with Luis Suárez earlier this season as we saw signs of Uruguay’s aging. The chances of Griezmann burying his eyes closed just a year or two ago are now growing.

This leaves Atlético Madrid in a dilemma. It is understood that he will remain on loan next season, but then a permanent decision on the transfer must be made. About a player who will turn 32 by the summer of 2023. A star in the pale, beyond his best, with huge salaries. Is he really the man around whom Atlético wants to build his future? Diego Simeone may say yes, but it is up to others at the club to provide opposition if his blind faith wants to stick to Griezmann.

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